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Heavy machinery among the trees (photo: Chris Lewcock).

Heavy machinery among the trees (photo: Chris Lewcock).

Council halts tree works on Archery Ground

Council officers have intervened on the Archery Ground building site to put a stop to unauthorised work on protected trees. Meanwhile building continues apace though the developer’s application to slash the number of affordable houses has yet to be decided. Nick Terdre reports.

Planning and enforcement officers from Hastings Borough Council recently visited the Archery Ground building site after being alerted by local resident, Chris Lewcock, a retired planning control officer, to unauthorised work being carried out on trees in the north of the site, including the lopping of branches – as this is a conservation area, the trees are protected and the protection can only be waived with the written approval of the planning department.

Condition 16 of the planning permission under which the site is being redeveloped had also not been complied with. This requires “temporary protective fences” to be erected to “safeguard the trees to be retained on the site” and “shall be kept in a sound, upright and complete condition until the development has been completed…”

The drill in the area of trees (photo: Chris Lewcock).

The drill close to the foliage (photo: Chris Lewcock).

However fences had been moved to allow a drill to be mounted to create holes for piles as part of the foundations. The drill had been placed close to the trees with its upper section passing close to the foliage.

“The issue is that they’ve done work in a conservation area without planning approval,” Lewcock told HOT. “They shouldn’t do anything inside the protective fencing.”

After he contacted the council, he said, the head of planning services and an enforcement officer visited the site and ordered the protective fencing to be restored to its original position; the developer was told fencing should not be relocated, or work carried out on the trees, without the local planning authority’s written permission.

Lewcock, who knows of other cases where protected trees have suffered permanent damage at the hands of developers, feels that a verbal reminder falls short of what is needed. “ I do think that unless there is an exemplary prosecution, future developers will cock a snook at the council,” he said.

“I also have more immediate fears about what will happen when they build the bridge from Highlands [Gardens] which will tear another hole through the trees.” This is a pedestrian bridge intended to give future residents a convenient exit from the site to Pevensey Road.

In June 2017 council officers also intervened to stop unauthorised works on the site.

Construction on Archery Ground in mid September (photo: Nick Terdre).

Construction on Archery Ground in early September (photo: Nick Terdre).

Application still undecided

Meanwhile Gemselect is awaiting a decision on an application submitted in March to reduce the number of affordable houses to 28 and the number of conversions in the listed buildings of the Archery Terrace to 12 – the planning permission it was granted in 2016 called for 97 new homes, including 68 affordable dwellings and 24 conversions.

Although the developer sought to have the matter decided by the planning department under Section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act, which allows existing conditions to be amended without the need to submit a full planning application, HOT understands that since 10 objections have been lodged, it will have to go before the planning committee.

No justification for reducing the number of affordable homes was provided by the developer’s agent other than that Gemselect’s partner, the Orbit housing association, had changed the number of units it wished to take.

The earliest the application could go before the planning committee is at its meeting on 10 October, but there are outstanding matters to be resolved, including requests by Sussex Police for substantial Section 106 payments.

House-building on West Hill Road was well advanced in mid September (photo: Nick Terdre).

House-building on West Hill Road was well advanced in early September (photo: Nick Terdre).


Posted 12:27 Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 In: Home Ground


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  1. Mrs P

    You say Decimus Burton would be turning in his grave but the new scheme has been designed so that some of the houses are returned to their original designs. By reducing the amount of flats in the listed building means that cornicing, skirtings and doors are retained. The previous scheme left entire floors as “storage” and the new scheme uses every inch of usable space. It is a really great scheme if you look a little closer.

    Don’t forget that this site was simply a quarry which was then made into gardens for the rich. You had to have a key to access it so not for the masses at all! Although this scheme may have flaws it will be a million times better than the old college buildings and will provide much needed housing.

    It is so easy to slate developers. They might make money but they do have to take financial risks in the process. They employ local tradesmen, pay a great deal tax and provide social housing. Without them there would be no affordable housing at all! The old “greedy developer” attitude is frankly boring. Why can’t you look at the site with a positive view and see the good in it or maybe your net curtains are so thick you simply can’t see the wood for the trees?

    Comment by Mrs P — Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 @ 12:31

  2. Bolshie

    What an absolute disaster and travesty this site has become. All the result of what I have to “suggest” is total mismanagement of the planning application by HBC’s planning department. And please before anybody criticises my remark, I know as I used to overlook this very land when it was a college. WE used to complain a bit about that but it would have been better for all who live around it if it was still there.
    Remembering the days of Save The Archery Ground ( STAG ) that I was an active member on the committee would never have been created and this current mess would not be there. That is if the council had accepted the very original plan for redeveloping the site. It was sensible and pretty sympathetic. But the head of them planning ( no names at this point ) said there were not enough “units” for a site of this size. And as you can see the rest is history. Poor old Decimus Burton must be turning in his grave over this. And by the way three of his lovely houses were lost due to the college development too

    Comment by Bolshie — Tuesday, Oct 2, 2018 @ 17:49

  3. Ms.Doubtfire

    These developers have already been warned about unauthorised works on this site – why does this council avert its eyes from the continued disregard of planning regulations?
    Why doesn’t HBC prosecute these developers? By the time the council decides to take any positive action it is always too late – the damage has been done and it is irreversible.
    The Leader of the council lives just across the road from this building site – he also seems very reluctant to ‘make waves’ until it is all too late.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Monday, Oct 1, 2018 @ 08:32

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